painting around patina

Several weeks ago, I acquired an amazing antique step-back cupboard off Craig’s List.  A piece like this really is an awesome find for the used furniture section, so I jumped on it immediately.  The woman who was selling it loved the piece, but was moving and couldn’t take it along, so I gladly took it off her hands for a good price.

I wasn’t  planning on painting it, but when I got it home, the blue was a bit brighter in person than it appeared in the listing pictures.  I could also tell that the cabinet wasn’t sporting the original paint color.  The roller marks and brush strokes, plus the layer of cream paint underneath gave it away.

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But, the blue paint also had the most amazing patina and I really didn’t want to cover that up with a fresh coat of paint.

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What to do?  I let it sit for a few weeks until I finally made up my mind to paint it very carefully, so I could retain the patina.

I mixed a custom blue using MMSMP French Enamel, Trophy and Grain Sack.  I didn’t keep track of the measurements, but I started with about one part Trophy to two parts French Enamel and then added to that until the color was what I wanted it to be.  It’s still a strong blue, but a bit more subdued.

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You can see the difference in the colors in the photo below…the top is painted and the bottom is in the original blue.

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In order to retain the patina, I used a few tricks..

First, I only lightly brushed the new coat of paint over the old, so I didn’t cover up the texture.  In some areas, I carefully painted around the naturally distressed areas entirely.  This was successful, because I wasn’t changing the color dramatically, so it was okay if the coverage was a little uneven.  I don’t think this would’ve been as successful if I was trying to paint it white or red or something entire different than blue.

Miss Mustard Seed-7373 I also used a heat gun on the freshly applied milk paint.  This sped up the drying process and made the paint crackle and separate.  I set the heat gun to a medium heat setting and applied it directly to the wet paint.  I didn’t use this technique all over, but in places where there was a lot of crackling or distressing in the original paint.  Miss Mustard Seed-7384

You can see the kind of crackling the heat gun produced at the bottom of the photo below…

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Pretty cool, right?  I can’t wait to try the heat gun on some more projects!

Once the paint was dry, I lightly distressed the new coat of paint with a medium grit sand paper, focusing specifically around the areas where there was a lot of wear.  I then added a coat of hemp oil to protect the finish, add luster to the paint and bring out the warmth of the exposed wood.

The result is really beautiful…

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You can see how the new, subdued blue, works over the old, brighter blue, to create lots of depth in the picture above.

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6 thoughts on “painting around patina

  1. Ter'e

    Oh wow!!! This is the coolest piece in the universe. I die!!!!!
    I have a question tho. TYPICALLY, when doing a piece like this, in Tricycle, how many containers of paint would it take? I would be painting over a oak piece of furniture? Is there a size chart available?
    I live in FL and have never seen your paint in person. I love it tho (and you).

  2. Barbara Bussey

    Hi Marian,
    Did you clean the piece before painting it?
    Just lovely!,

  3. Patty Soriano

    I swear, you have the best luck finding these pieces! I’m on the lookout for a similar piece, but with glass in the top cabinet to show off what’s inside. I’ll know it when I see it ! Great tips on painting to keep the old patina on these terrific finds! Thanks, Marian !

  4. Cheryl

    There is something about an old step back cupboard that makes me homey an simple and sweet. I’ve been looking for one myself. Love your finish keeping the old beauty intact.
    Very nice!

  5. april

    Your furniture techniques are beautiful. I am creating a craft room for myself as I am an artist. I want my table to be antique white and a few small chairs robin egg blue, yellow and green, all antiqued. I am so glad to have found your site. Beautiful work!


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